Asian Americans Run for Something: Ben Ku | Candidate for GA Gwinnett County Commissioner, District 2

Ben Ku, Candidate for Georgia Gwinnett County Commissioner, District 2

This year, a record number of Asian Americans are running for public office at the local, state, and national level. Reappropriate has partnered with Run for Something — a non-profit launched in 2017 to support grassroots campaigns to elect progressive candidates — to profile these progressive Asian American candidates for higher office. Check back at Reappropriate throughout 2018 to learn more about these candidates and find out how you can get more involved in their campaigns.

What is your full name?
Ben Ku

What office are you seeking?
Georgia Gwinnett County Commissioner, District 2

When is the election date?
I am facing an opponent in the Democratic primary opponent, which will be held on May 22. If I win the primary election, I will face a Republican incumbent opponent in the general election on November 6.

What is your party registration (if any)?
Democrat

Tell me a little bit about your background in general, as well as your relationship to your identity as an Asian American?

I am a Georgia native and the grandson of Chinese immigrants who came to Georgia to help engineer the original MARTA rail. I’m a local small business owner and have over 20 years of software development experience. I have had a successful career, consulting with Fortune 500 companies in the Metro Atlanta area and across the globe.

I have consistently been on the cutting edge of technology having developed some of the first websites and apps ever available. Gwinnett has big transportation problems: the board doesn’t reflect our citizens, there is an inequitable allocation of county resources, and it’s difficult to connect with our representatives. I will work to improve transportation, representation, and communication here in Gwinnett.

I want to improve our community and I will bring a unique and forward thinking perspective to the board of commissioners.

How did you become inspired to seek elected office?

As part of the Gwinnett 101 Citizens Academy, I learned how much the county government does for us, and I have great respect for the work that has been done in infrastructure, training, and rebranding to embrace diversity. However, it feels disingenuous when a majority-minority county has never had a person of color on the board of commissioners, and that a county that voted for Hillary and Obama hasn’t had a democrat on the board of commissioners in over 30 years. Even the commissioners claim that communication and community outreach is a “priority” which wouldn’t be
necessary if they listened to their constituents and were more in touch with the community.

As a minority in multiple ways, I want to be a voice for all the forgotten and
overlooked areas and improve the standard of living for all residents of Gwinnett.

What three issues do you think are most important to your constituents, and what step(s) do you plan to take to address them if elected?

Transportation, representation, and safety.

There are multiple things we can do to immediately improve our transit system and our existing resources. I am fully in favor of the large transit plan they are working on, however, the plan lacks the interconnects necessary for a healthy and robust network that can adapt to bottlenecks such as the I-85 bridge collapse.

I will be available and accessible to constituents and strengthen the non-discrimination policies as well as implement hiring policies that favor qualification over cronyism.

We need to improve funding for our police force which is paid around $20,000 less than the surrounding communities and whose pensions were just taken away. We need to provide affordable housing so that our public servants can live in the communities they are expected to serve so that they can be integrated as part of the community instead of a separate opponent.

What impact has the current political climate had on you as an Asian American progressive seeking elected office?

The recent political climate seems to give permission for rampant discrimination and hatred. I am excited to be running with a cohort of intelligent and positive role models and that there are real choices among good candidates instead of the career politicians who have been there for ages with minimal achievements.

What advice would you have for other young Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders currently considering a career in politics and/or public service?

Start by being involved volunteering and participating in your community. Listen to good ideas no matter where they come from and make friends. You can listen to all the advice, but at some point, you need to act and create your own experiences to learn from.

The world is so different now than the old guard was used to, and we now live in a global society where you can reach across the globe in seconds. We have technology and information at our fingertips so use that to your advantage. Help others embrace change instead of fearing it.

We are one human race and our diversity is our strength, so don’t try to play the game how it’s been played; redefine the game!

Where can readers go to learn more about you and your campaign?

Website: https://www.KuForYou.com
Facebook: https://www.Facebook.com/KuForYou
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/BenKu
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/KuForYou

Or, come find me at one of the many events I’m at.

How can readers get involved to help your campaign? Are there any upcoming events you’d like for us to know about?

Sign up for my email newsletter and volunteer to phone bank, canvas, or write. Tell everyone you know about my campaign and why representation and technologically literate leaders are so important to you.

Run for Something recruits and supports talented, passionate young people who advocate for progressive values now and for the next 30 years, with the ultimate goal of building a progressive bench. Since its launch on inauguration day 2017, they’ve recruited 16,000 young people to run for office. 

Register to vote online now.

 

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